• wednesday, 2 march 2022—17:00

    Exploring the Body/Mind Connection during Sleep and Its Contributions to Cognitive Enhancement.

    Sara Mednick, Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, University of California

    This will be an online seminar on Teams. Link for the seminar: https://bit.ly/3h2x5cG

    Two of the primary benefits of sleep are the promotion of restorative functions via the enhancement of parasympathetic activity and offline cognitive functions via reactivation of memories in thalamocortical networks. How the sleeping brain achieves these two impressive feats during the same sleep period is not known. My Sleep and Cognition (SaC) lab investigates this question by first identifying the mechanisms and behavioral signatures of both of these functions and then by investigating whether they occur independently, collaboratively, or competitively. In my talk, I will review findings that demonstrate a link between prefrontal-subcortical networks in the regulation of parasympathetic activity across wake and sleep. Furthermore, we have shown that the magnitude of parasympathetic activity during sleep is associated with improvement in prefrontal-mediated cognitive processes, such as working memory. On the other hand, reactivation of hippocampal-dependent, episodic memories in thalamocortical networks during sleep has been identified to occur in sharp wave-ripple/spindle complexes. My lab and others have recently found evidence that these two networks, the prefrontal-subcortical-autonomic network and the thalamocortical ripple/spindle network, may have an antagonistic relation during sleep. Using a pharmacological intervention to increase spindle activity, we demonstrated targeted suppression of autonomic vagal activity. With effective connectivity, we determined that spindle activity has greater causal influence over autonomic activity, and the magnitude of this influence during sleep produced a behavioral trade-off between offline long-term and working memory processing. We propose a sleep switch mechanism that toggles between spindle-related episodic memory and autonomic working memory processing. In conclusion, I will propose that sleep is a competitive area with limited resources, suggesting that we should probably all just go to sleep now.

    external seminar